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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
January 25, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:10 PM :: 1045 Views

Minimum Wage Hike? You can be replaced by a Robot

Full Text: State of the State Address

Hawaii Unemployment Drops to 5.7% for December

DHHL?  Rainy Day?  Minimum Wage?  Most of the Big Splashy Legislative Proposals are just Negotiating Positions

SA Editorial … The catch is that there’s a real mismatch between Ige’s wish list and what the Legislature’s leadership has asserted that it wants.

And some of his bullet points are short on details, particularly the one on preschools….

there isn’t much alignment between the priorities of the executive and legislative branches. If there’s to be a future for his own agenda, Ige will have to bridge the gulf between his plans and those of the lawmakers who will need to pass his bills.

For example, the governor in recent weeks has urged that much of the budgetary surplus, enabled by federal aid and a fair degree of economic recovery, be used to replenish the state’s rainy-day fund. Ige had talked about dedicating about $1 billion to that purpose.

Legislators have not been so inclined, preferring to sequester about $600 million for a proposed program to get many of the thousands of Native Hawaiian beneficiaries off the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waiting list.

But that imperative doesn’t seem to figure in the governor’s calculus at all.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been an upswell of support for the fulsome, billion-dollar rainy-day infusion….

Ige also was silent about the proposed increase in the minimum wage….

Cataluna: Mostly vague plans strung together with cliches.

read … Gov. David Ige, Legislature need to negotiate

Minimum Wage Hike -- Big Contract Boost for UPW?

SA: … Raising the minimum wage has been touted this year as a top priority of leaders in the Senate as well as in the House, where a bill was introduced Monday to achieve the $18 goal more gradually than the Senate bill would….

Trevor Abarzua, associate vice president of business advocacy and government affairs for the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, told the committee chaired by Sen. Brian Taniguchi that increases proposed in the bill could hurt the state’s economic recovery. “It would have a devastating impact,” he said.

Wendy Laros, president of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, said it’s a bad time to raise the minimum wage because businesses are dealing with much adversity right now, including a labor shortage, more expensive goods and supply chain disruptions.

“The minimum wage increases presented in SB 2018 are simply too much, too soon,” she said.

Pamela Tumpap, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce, suggested that a palatable minimum hourly wage level would be $12 in 2023 and $16 in 2027. She also said that 21% of the organization’s members who responded to a recent survey said that they would go out of business if the minimum wage rises to $18 four years from now.

Tina Yamaki, president of trade group Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said the proposed Oct. 1 boost to $12 was a concern, and predicted that businesses would just pass the extra expense on to consumers.

Supporters of the bill included the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the Hawaii Public Health Institute and the United Public Workers Union representing government employees. (who are making less than $18/hr.) ….

MN: Testifiers: Wage hike would help workers, hurt businesses

HTH: Quick start for wage bill: Proposal to hike minimum hourly rate to $18 advances on unanimous vote

KITV: While lawmakers consider boosting Hawaii's minimum wage, business owners express concerns

read … Hawaii minimum wage increase bill advances

Proposed short-term rental ban is not the ‘solution’ we need

SA: … In my 12 years of renting, I have only experienced a single bad tenant who treated my property as a “party house,” and this was a local resident — not a visitor from the mainland….Good owners lead to good renters, and good renters bring value to the entire community. But redefining the “short-term” rental period to 90 days would eliminate any possibility that vacation rentals can give support to our recovering economy…. 

Big Q: What should be the minimum period allowed for Oahu short-term rentals in residential areas, with a city permit?

SA: Honolulu Council considers new rules for short-term rentals

read … Proposed short-term rental ban is not the ‘solution’ we need

8 Years Of Fighting The Police Union In Court And What Did We Get?

CB: …In 2014, about a year after the case was first filed, then-Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled that police officers have no special right to privacy when it comes to their disciplinary files. SHOPO immediately appealed the case, but the ruling encouraged lawmakers like then-state Sen. Will Espero, always a staunch advocate of police reform, to keep pressing for repeal of the exemption as well as other measures.

In 2016, the Supreme Court largely agreed with Sakamoto and ruled that police misconduct cases should be released in those instances where the public interest outweighed a police officer’s privacy interest. The high court sent the case back to the lower court to review the 12 cases and apply the balancing test. By that time Sakamoto had retired and the case was assigned to Chang.

… By the time Chang signed off on the final release of the records, the information on misconduct in the files was basically worthless from a news perspective. By then, the cases were well more than a decade old.

We also found out as our lawsuit progressed that some of the disciplinary files we’d asked for had already been reduced to single note cards with very few details because HPD’s records retention policies — heavily influenced by SHOPO’s collective bargaining agreement — generally allow officials to destroy files after a couple of years.

Even then, in 2013 we asked for 12 files that appeared to be some of the most egregious examples of misconduct from the previous 10 years. So, as Black noted when we talked about the case last week, a 2003 incident probably wasn’t going to have much immediate news value anyway….

in 2020, with the country’s attention still captured by the highly publicized death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer, the Legislature finally eliminated the 25-year-old exemption from public disclosure of information for officers who had been suspended. The bill became Act 47 and has survived challenges by SHOPO on several fronts, although one provision is still being argued before the appellate court.

Local government officials soon began complying with the law. And Black successfully argued before the Supreme Court that arbitration records like Cachola’s were part of the disciplinary files that Act 47 required to be released.

That has led to all four county police departments releasing dozens of arbitration decisions requested by Civil Beat. Reporter Nick Grube has been detailing the decisions and issues that they raise in a series of stories that show serious flaws in the police arbitration process.

“Cachola never would have happened if (the 2013) case hadn’t started the ball,” Black says about the court’s relatively quick decision on the issue of arbitration records. “Cachola would have been much more uphill.”

The 2013 case also has had effects on public records laws in general that we’re seeing in other areas. The key legal issue has always been whether public employees have the right to keep their bad behavior secret when the misconduct raises a bigger public concern.

The Hawaii Supreme Court recognized that public interest must be balanced against an individual’s right to privacy, which generally gets to the issue of how you deal with privacy in public records, Black says.

“So you can’t just say there’s a significant privacy interest and not give (a public record) to you,” he says. “You have to consider the public interest in disclosure.”

That’s also been a factor in another lawsuit Civil Beat has filed, this one against the state Department of Education. We want records that cover teacher misconduct, including which teachers and staff at which schools have been disciplined, as well as information about teachers who have been allowed to resign before they were fired. It’s important that parents and the community know when their kids may have been put in a bad situation and have confidence that bad teachers aren’t just moving on to another school.

And those original 12 HPD misconduct files? It turns out getting the names of the officers involved allowed us to look at other ways HPD may be falling short when it comes to keeping problem officers in check. Several have been promoted, including one who is now a lieutenant.

At least five were repeat violators, which is a disturbing discovery since we only asked for 12 cases out of dozens of files….

Several in our batch were convicted on criminal charges, and yet they remain in the department….

read … 8 Years Of Fighting The Police Union In Court And What Did We Get?

More Homeless Mayhem: Police shoot man, 48, who allegedly charged at them with knife in Ala Moana area

SA: … Police said a man reported that another man threatened him with a knife sometime before 10:40 p.m.

When they arrived, the victim pointed the suspect out to officers who then approached the suspect and commanded him to drop the knife.

Police said the suspect refused to comply and charged at them while still holding the knife. Officers discharged their duty firearms to stop him….

read … Police shoot man, 48, who allegedly charged at them with knife in Ala Moana area

Navy to withhold full Red Hill fuel leak report

SA: … Officials confirmed Monday that the report had been submitted to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Jan. 14, as anticipated. But the Navy says the report remains under review and that it plans to release only a summary of its findings….

During a hearing in December before the state Department of Health, a top Navy official said that as much as 19,000 gallons of fuel may have been released from one of its tanks on May 6 and flowed into a lower tunnel where it ended up being pumped into a fire suppression pipeline. It’s not clear how fuel could have ended up in such a pipeline.

State officials say the Navy told them that a worker then crashed a cart into the pipe months later, on Nov. 20, spewing thousands of gallons of fuel and water into the tunnel.

Navy officials said they were initially stumped as to how that fuel could have ended up in its Red Hill drinking water well, about a quarter-mile away from the pipeline. They told state lawmakers in early December that they pulled out construction drawings from 1943 and found that there was a drain line for rainwater that was a probable pathway for the jet fuel to enter its Red Hill well….

SA: Red Hill water crisis taking toll on students, teachers say

read … Navy to withhold full Red Hill fuel leak report

Maui Commission Wants Public’s Feedback On 40 Reforms To Local Government

CB: … A citizens commission has consolidated 135 ideas on how to refine county governance into 40 Maui County Charter amendment proposals. Now it wants the public’s help to finalize the list for voters ….

PDF: Maui Charter Commission Draft Report On Proposed Ballot Amendments

read … Maui Commission Wants Public’s Feedback On 40 Reforms To Local Government

UH Football Coaches And The Culture Of Hawaii

CB: … Let’s focus on what can bring us together, including with those who are culturally different….Cultural understanding should be mutual among different groups, whether racial, ethnic or Indigenous. While we can give priority to local, Hawaii or Native Hawaiian cultures, we should also make an effort to understand and respect the cultures of others who are not from here or who are different from us…It’s much too easy to tell others to move elsewhere, to go back to where they came from or, much worse, to stop practicing their culture, which is what enables them to be who they are…..

read … UH Football Coaches And The Culture Of Hawaii

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